THE CLASSIC RUMPUS ROOM FROM SUBURBAN YESTERYEAR IS HAVING A MODERN REVIVAL
The classic rumpus room is making a comeback, says Neale Whitaker.
An early memory of my English childhood is the grandsounding loggia (mispronounced like log with a hard “g”), a chilly playroom that was neither properly indoor nor outdoor, bolted on to the back of our suburban bungalow. I was far too young to know that the Italian word required a soft “g” and that my playground, with glass windows running its full length and doors opening to the garden, was in fact little more than a glorified greenhouse. Although I was probably no more than three or four years old at the time, I can still hear the rain lashing the glass as I patrolled my world on a sturdy tricycle.
Our loggia’s Australian cousin was the less pretentious-sounding rumpus room. As Aussie as the barbie, this domestic phenomenon was the place where the kids – and maybe grown-ups, too – could kick up a rumpus (it could have as easily been the ruckus room) and it wouldn’t matter. Threadbare carpet? Clapped-out sofas? That coffee table covered in unsightly rings? Yep, the rumpus room would have ’em.
And then rumpus rooms seemed to vanish, doubtless repurposed as home theatres, butler’s pantries, walk-in wardrobes, wine cellars, yoga rooms or any of the box tickers of early 21stcentury real estate. But I’m noticing a rumpus revival, maybe as an antidote to all those task-specific spaces I’ve just mentioned. One such rumpus room was being given a pristine (and oddly sterile – wear and tear is in the rumpus DNA),
Scandi-style makeover recently on a TV home show, while I was offered one for renovation on a forthcoming episode of Love It Or List It Australia.
Not, I hasten to add, to be transformed for some higher purpose, but restored to full-blown rumpus status. Comedian, author and design enthusiast Tim Ross named his most recent book The Rumpus Room: And Other
Stories From The Suburbs (timross.com.au, $35.95). In the collection of “stories that capture a sense of how we live… experiences we share as Australians”, Ross writes, “The rumpus room can be described in two ways: the one you had and the one you wished you had. In the golden years of absent parenting they ruled supreme… the great rumpus rooms had either a ping-pong table or a pool table. We had neither.”
I guess Minecraft might be the new ping-pong, but I bet there’s one common denominator shared by my ’60s loggia, Tim Ross’s ’80s rumpus room and its contemporary counterpart. Lego. Neale Whitaker is editor-at-large of Vogue Living.